What Does It All Mean?

Time, where does it go? I wanted to use these past four days off from work and write a post each day, but didn’t, couldn’t. Inundated with household duties and distractions, I didn’t even have time enough to finish those important things. I missed CR and AA this week, an NA meeting on Sunday afternoon. I really didn’t realize this weekend was Palm Sunday! This afternoon I return to work for a three-week stretch. There is more wah-wahs, but I will spare you.

It may be hard to realize God, in the middle of turmoil we face in life. Having all of these things that need taken care of can even take our time with the Father away from us to the point we question our own faithfulness to Him, and His calling on our lives. God where are you in all of this? What does this all mean? Why can I not do what I feel you want me to do?

One great lesson I learned about recovery from addictions is that I must surrender. I must surrender every area of my life, relinquish all control, putting to death personal desire and expectations, that Christ may reign through me. Even surrender what He has for me to do. That lesson came as I recovered from alcoholism and drug use, not in church.

“Let this same mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Phil.2:5 NKJV

Jesus laid aside all of His regal rights, all of the beauty of heaven, to come to a place and live in a body with a mere five senses, be hated, and rejected. That is surrender we could never imagine. He did that, experienced everything we experience so that we could never say…”God, You don’t understand what I’m going through!”

We cannot understand what he did fully . We can try to conform by surrendering self’s ambitions to reign with Him now. When I say, “okay Lord, I give up every bit of hope that my writing will bring me notoriety, or any recognition by others,…but honor You and help people.” When I fully realize that my best efforts are taking preeminence over His glory, and I take those things and place them where they belong…in His hands, I have surrendered, He brings the bounty.

“I have held many things in my hands and have lost them all. Those things I placed in God’s hands, those I still have.” Martin Luther

What it all means is that you and I have no ability to control the stormy seas of life. If we follow Christ, there comes a point in which we think we have arrived, we control situations, we are leaders. When appointed, we fearfully rule, suspicious of shadows or possibilities that someone or something will topple our plans, so we rule as though we are in charge. Friends, we are not. That stifles personal growth, splits churches, silences great voices, blocks inspirational writings.

My understanding of God’s purpose in my life of sobriety and Christian service comes in bits and pieces. Sadly, I have to re-learn some things, especially surrender. Jesus got it right the first time, to our benefit as we believe and follow Him. I want His mind to be my guide. Then I can let go of thinking I must perform or disappoint, time to write will come, and days off will be peaceful and restful.

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

In God’s Hands

Is everything in your life going as you expected it to? In my time living sober, I have a new perspective regarding my own expectations. As I entered into this way of life, all I could see was a broken past with lost dreams I had given up to live with the in-crowd. I held on to the hopes of high-living all the way through years of drinking.
In time I was able to shake off the guilt and the failures, and began working with others seeking help from drinking and drugging, and helping them through the 12 step program. I originally planned to never lose even one I sponsored, thinking how I could change the traditional way of guiding the one needing help with my excellent leadership abilities. That, as you probably know, didn’t work. Every expectation was shattered. The harder I tried to hold on to their being successful, the more I failed, the more disappointed I became. Those I expected to failed, continue to prove me wrong and the ones I thought would surely succeed, failed miserably.
“I have held many things in my hands and lost them all; but whatever I placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.” – Martin Luther
Hold on loosely
As a child develops learning skills, they become so interesting to talk to. It is a pleasure to watch them learn to write their ABC’s and read from a book. They cannot be pushed too hard or they struggle to learn. But with encouragement and motivation, their skills may come smoothly. If we go step further and pray for the child learning, and place the outcome into God’s hands, the learning may come even easier, still with our encouragement and motivation. We turn our expectations away from the child, to the Father above. The same must go with those I may work with in rec. Remove the expectation and pressure, let them initiate contact, and their journey is much surer, my frustrations were fewer.
I have the same experiences in my walk with Christ. I learn daily how far above His ways are above mine. I think I am doing things right by sharing my experience, strengths, and hopes with others by writing these posts and helping others in their recovery, but I can see that I leave out time with God to do those things. What that does for me is dulls my spiritual awareness, and I wind up spending precious time struggling to think of how to say the right things. When He is my priority, the thoughts flow and I seem to have an answer, a topic, and a spiritual insight for needed help. Yet I hold on to my way, and my failure prone expectations.
The answer for us all is this:  Our “ministry” does not matter, if we hold onto the control buttons, as though the message belongs to us. It is God-given. The paradox is that we place the work, and it’s outcome into His hands to see it succeed. Like the small child learning, our entire life is learning to hold loosely, and be willing to let go. Does that make sense?
What we hold.  
We have all heard that when we pass away we leave it all behind. The saying, “you can’t take it with you,” is the popular way of saying that. I beg to differ. I will not leave it all behind. Jesus said these words:
“Do not lay up treasures for yourselves on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven where neither moth or rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matt. 6:19-21 NKJV
 What  does  by treasure? He isn’t talking about dollars, silver, and gold, that are unnecessary in heaven. My account, your account is based on our life and service here on earth. Giving love to the unlovely, time to the lonely, strength to the weak, has comforting rewards on earth. Doing the work of Jesus by serving those in need, brings Him to life through us to them. We benefit as much or more than the ones we help. And our treasure grows in heaven. Paydays with God are unending.
I understand that this life here is the place where we learn from trial to trial, to conform to the image of Christ, learning and developing the “fruit” of the spirit to where we instantly know to let go and let God, or to hold loosely and trust the outcome to His hands, but it remains a hard thing to do. But we continue to do what is needed and build treasures in our eternal account. The important thing to remember is to give Him the time and not put a clutch-hold on anything, allow each experience to be a lesson, and be trusting as a child for the results.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

Book release Tuesday the 28th of August!

http://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=9781620241035 this is the link to Tate publishing, where you can get a copy for that loved one trying to stay clean and sober. You can also get a copy from kindle or nook, beginning Tuesday. If you are the one that is struggling to stay sober, this is a helpful tool that works! You to my site and order your copy, and I’ll pay your shipping. If you are outside of the USA, the book will be sent to you for $23. plus tax..I will cover shipping. This offer is good for those ordering at my site only, http://www.skeithbarnes.com and for ordering through WP to my personal site. Two days from now is the release date, so go today to http://www.skeithbarnes.com and get your copy today!

Simplicity: K.I.S.S.

Keep it simple stupid. This is a saying quoted regularly in recovery meetings, and for good reasons. Mainly, a person seeking to recover from addiction to drink and drug use, must not complicate anything in their life that may drive them back into the old way of thinking and living. This is a good way of approach to anything and everything we do lifelong.
Simplicity begins from the moment we awake to face the new day. Thoughts we have in those first few seconds, set the tone, or the pace for the new day. Do you want to have a good day? Start the day right, surrender the day to God, seize the day in prayer. There is freedom in this surrender.
“My voice shall you hear in the morning, O Lord, in the morning i will direct it to you, and I will look up.” Ps 5:3
 A simple, God help me stay sober today, is all most people need, when asked with sincerity. God isn’t waiting for you to learn to speak in the old English way. Thees and thous are not what He wants from you. He merely wants you to look to Him for help…and He will give that help. This was key for me in my early days of recovery. I have to remember, even now, not to kneel in prayer, and over-complicate a simple conversation with the Lord of Life.
I am also keenly aware that I have to keep this morning exercise simple to the next step in the new day’s beginning. It is very essential to put something into the thinking part of me, to mull over as I go through my day. A short verse from the Bible, a short devotional, a paragraph from AA/NA’s Big Book, and there are other plans that work…but remember, KISS. (Not the band)
Meditating on what I have just prayed and read, is the next step in a great start in this new morning. Do you know how to meditate? Can you believe that most people don’t know how?  There is a good reason they do not know, that being, most have the perception of the one meditating, sitting with their legs crossed, chanting and focused on…nothing. That isn’t true at all.
Meditation is mulling over in your mind, the thoughts you have from what you have prayed and read. Do this exercise without complication. Meditation also means, “to mutter,” repeat it over and over. This process only takes minutes, not hours. Every individual I know in recovery, that has maintained their sobriety, have maintained a similar day-starter like this. No complications, KISS.
“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for His will for us, and the power to carry that out.” The Big Book of AA, step 11, pg.59
You can pray as long as you like, read as much as you want, meditate for hours on end, but that is no more effective if performed without sincerity. The long drawn out prayers seem to come from the part of us, where are faith is weak, thinking that this petition will not be heard if the request is too short, but that isn’t so. Spending time with God is great, is faith building, but that isn’t the key to answered prayer. The request once made, is to be received by faith. Spend the rest of the time on other needs, or other people, or just to talk to Him. KISS.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith…kiss.

24 Hours

Change is good. Everyone has something about themselves that they dislike. I for one, have at least two…or more things I would like to alter or completely eliminate from my life. Change is painful. The problem of making those changes we think are necessary, is that it takes effort, perserverance, and some dedication. Nothing in life that has value will come easily. The truth is, we make even the smallest of things difficult. Giving ourselves to 24 hours toward making the changes we want can actually be the step needed to remove the impossibilities that hamper our metamorphosis. Change is good, change is painful, change is possible.
Always remember that the future comes one day at a time. Dean Acheson                              Change brings opportunity. Nido Qubein
What do you want to change? If you want to change anything about you, you must remember that it takes time. A person wanting to lose weight knows they will not lose the weight they desire to lose overnite. It took time to put weight on, it takes time to remove it. So how does 24 hrs sound. You can lose the weight you want, no matter how much, in 24 hrs…really, you can. Not through surgery, nothing like that. Maybe you want to change being a procrastinator, or be a better person, or help others more often, or spend more quality time with the kids…all you need is 24 hrs! Christians often say, I want to pray and read the Bible more, homeowners want to get household projects done, others desire to make calls and write letters to dear friends they haven’t seen in years…in 24 hrs you can do it all!
Change before you have to. Jack Welch                                                                                        
Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves. Leo Tolstoy
In recovery meetings, the hardest thing for an alcoholic or drug addict to grasp is the 24 hr, or “one day at a time” concept. The thing is, it isn’t white-knuckling, trying to make it by willpower. Every individual has the same story, their life is unmanagable. Alcohol and drug addiction has complete control, not the person. People say to the addicted, Why don’t you just quit? They cannot, they are under the influence. The person asking the question is also under the influence of ignorance, but don’t know that. Here you have two people needing the same process to change. Both of these are in need of surrender. The addicted person must surrender their unmanagability, the question asker must surrender attempting to control with words…it does not work. By asking God’s help, accepting your addictions, and making the decision that you want to change more than anything, 24 hrs is all you need.
If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Frederick Douglass                                 
 ..Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Jesus, Matt.6:34 (NIV)
I’m sure you get what I’m getting at. No matter what your addiction is, by focusing on the 24 hrs ahead, you can make the changes you need to make in your life. As I said above, if you procrastinate, make a list of what you have been putting off, then go for it. Like the alcoholic/addict, the first thing in the morning before your transformation, ask God to help you, and turn your will and life over to Him…today. Don’t look at the mountain, look to the One who formed mountain ranges with a word from His mouth. You have surrendered the fact that you cannot do this without Him, you accept that you’re life is unmanagable, and with list in hand, you will string together enough 24 hr periods to change. When you look back, you will wonder why you waited, and you can then move on to the next issue, one day at a time.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith